Uilleann Pipe Tune Tutorial: Learn the Lively Polka Britches Full of Stitches

May 19, 2023

If you're a beginner looking to learn the Uilleann Pipes or expand your repertoire, the tune Britches Full of Stitches is an excellent choice. This traditional Irish tune is not only catchy but also offers great opportunities for practicing ascending and descending cuts. In this blog post, we'll guide you through learning this tune and we'll provide you with sheet music, a video tutorial, and helpful tips along the way. So grab your pipes and get ready to master Britches Full of Stitches.

Why Learn Britches Full of Stitches on the Uilleann Pipes?

As a beginner, it's crucial to start with tunes that are approachable and offer a good foundation for learning. Britches Full of Stitches fits the bill perfectly. Its simple melody and repetitive structure make it easy to grasp, even for those new to Uilleann pipes. By learning this tune, you'll build your confidence and set a solid groundwork for more complex tunes in the future. If you would like to dive deep into this tune and learn more about ascending and descending cuts I offer a course that could really help.

Understanding Ascending and Descending Cuts

Adding Style with Ornamentations

In Irish traditional music, ornamentations play a significant role in adding color and ornamentation to the melody. Ascending and descending cuts are two commonly used ornamentation techniques in Uilleann pipe playing. 

Working on Ascending Cuts in Britches Full of Stitches

To practice ascending cuts, start by identifying the notes in "Britches Full of Stitches" polka that have an ascending cut, these can be found in the A part of the tune. Begin slowly, ensuring a clear and crisp articulation of the grace note and the main note. Gradually increase the speed while maintaining the clarity of the cuts. Focus on precision and consistency to develop a fluid and expressive execution.

Working on Descending Cuts in Britches Full of Stitches

Similarly, descending cuts can be applied to specific notes in the melody. These cuts occur in the B part of the tune. Practice the descending cuts in the same manner as the ascending cuts, starting slowly and gradually building up speed. Pay attention to the smoothness of the transition between the grace note and the main note to achieve a seamless flow in your playing.

Sheet Music for Britches Full of Stitches on Uilleann Pipes

To aid your learning process, we have provided sheet music for Britches Full of Stitches. The sheet music includes the melody, as well as the proper ornamentation. Familiarize yourself with the notation and ornaments, and use it as a reference while practicing the tune. Having the sheet music in front of you will help reinforce the melody and ornamentations as you progress. I also have a FREE ebook "40 Essential Uilleann Pipe Tunes" that you can download HERE that includes this tune and many others.

Tips for Mastering Britches Full of Stitches on the Uilleann Pipes

Focus on Clean and Articulated Notes

When playing Britches Full of Stitches, aim for clean and articulated notes. Each note should be distinct and well-defined, ensuring that the melody is clear and enjoyable to listen to. Pay attention to proper fingering, steady pressure on the bag, and use the bellows effectively to achieve a balanced and expressive sound.

Practice Slowly and Gradually Increase Speed

As with any musical instrument, practicing slowly and gradually increasing the speed is crucial for developing accuracy and precision. Start by practicing the tune at a comfortable tempo, focusing on accuracy and clarity. Once you feel confident, gradually increase the speed while maintaining control and maintaining the integrity of the melody and ornamentations. 

FAQs about Britches Full of Stitches on the Uilleann Pipes

Can I learn this tune as a beginner?

Absolutely! Britches Full of Stitches is an excellent choice for beginners. Its simple melody and repetitive structure make it accessible and approachable for those starting their Uilleann pipe journey.

What are ascending and descending cuts?

Ascending and descending cuts are ornamentation techniques used in Uilleann pipe playing. Ascending cuts involve adding a cut when going from a lower note to a higher note, while descending cuts do the same but from a higher note to a lower note. These cuts add flair and style to the melody.

Where can I find more Uilleann Pipe tunes for beginners?

There are several resources available online where you can find more Uilleann Pipe tunes for beginners. Try my FREE ebook here, it's full of great tunes for beginners.

Are there any alternative versions of "Britches Full of Stitches" to explore?

Yes, "Britches Full of Stitches" polka has variations and alternative arrangements that you can explore. These alternative versions often introduce variations in ornamentations and rhythms providing exciting possibilities for your repertoire. You can find more variations of this tune if you just head to www.thesession.org

How can I improve my finger coordination while playing this tune?

Improving finger coordination requires consistent practice and exercises. Work on technical exercises specifically designed for Uilleann Pipe players. Additionally, practicing the melody of "Britches Full of Stitches" polka itself will also help improve your finger coordination.

What resources are available for learning the Uilleann Pipes?

There is no better place to learn the Uilleann Pipes than The Uilleann Pipe Academy. Learn step by step all the embellishments and tunes needed to learn the Uilleann pipes, plus so much more, all from the comfort of your home.


Learning the Uilleann Pipe tune "Britches Full of Stitches" is an exciting endeavor for beginners. With its catchy melody and opportunities to practice ascending and descending cuts, this tune serves as an excellent foundation for building your skills. By following the sheet music, watching the video tutorial, and implementing the provided tips, you'll be well on your way to mastering "Britches Full of Stitches" on the Uilleann pipes. So grab your pipes, embrace the joy of traditional Irish music, and enjoy the journey of becoming a skilled Uilleann Pipe player!